Director: Perry Lafferty
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Mike Kellin, Simon Oakland, David Sheiner, John Considine, Billy Bixby, Conlan Carter, Forrest Compton, Henry Scott, Tony Call, Charles Kuenstle, Derrik Lewis, Vince Bagetta, and Louie Elias
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/10/1963
Production Code: 4857
A U.S. Navy ship encounters a submarine that, though supposedly destroyed during World War II, emanates a hammering sound from the ocean floor. While investigating the noise, Captain Beecham (Simon Oakland) must deal with the nervous breakdown of Chief Bell (Mike Kellin)—apparently connected to the drowned submarine.
“The Thirty Fathom Grave” benefits from realistic performances and fear-building devices of a paranormal variety. Nevertheless, this episode (along with almost every season four installment) is marred by an excessive running time.
For its eerie execution of many classic ghost tale tropes, “The Thirty Fathom Grave” should be commended by fans of the supernatural horror genre. In the first act, for example, the clanging of metal inside a wrecked submarine—now lost at sea for over twenty years—serves to plant a terrifying suggestion in the viewer’s mind. Similarly disquieting are the more explicit hauntings featured in the final act, which, by displaying a group of phantoms in the mirror of a disturbed crewman, offers a shocking—albeit deliberately ambiguous—conclusion to the slow, suspenseful build-up of the early scenes.
“The Thirty Fathom Grave” deserves criticism for its copious narrative padding—likely a consequence of the hour-long format of this episode. Especially tedious are the repetitive diving sequences and superfluous exposition contained in this offering, which heavily detract from the subtlety of Rod Serling’s premise.
Actor Mike Kellin should be praised for his performance, the tormented qualities of which may draw attention to the effects of PTSD—here depicted in the form of survivor guilt.
Combining horror clichés with a nautical setting, “The Thirty Fathom Grave” will appeal to those who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its ominous situations. Viewers may, however, take issue with this episode for its languid pacing, which weakens the impact of an otherwise spooky and memorable twist ending.
Overall Quality: 7/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.